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The children's charity Action for Children has launched an innovative employment scheme named 'Step Ahead' which aims to raise the aspirations of young people to enter the workplace at a time when youth unemployment is at an all time high.
Step Ahead has been developed and is being delivered with the support of four business partners, Ernst & Young, Gap, Hays and TK Maxx who will offer young people supported by the charity high quality work experience opportunities and vital skills training to help increase their employability and prepare them for the world of work.
Latest statistics show that youth unemployment is slowly creeping towards one million and the charity is concerned that the most vulnerable in society, such as care leavers or disabled teenagers, are going to be hit the hardest. Step Ahead offers these youngsters a life line through access to workshops to help develop skills such as good communication, working with others and advice on perfecting a CV and developing good interview technique.
Clare Tickell, Action for Children Chief Executive, says "this recession is affecting all young people, but the most vulnerable youngsters are suffering the most. The young people we support donâ€™t often get the chance to take up internships or work placements but Step Ahead aims to change that. The programme will raise aspirations and open up a world of possibility but also help young people gain that all important skill that so many employers crave, experience."
Tim Cook, Managing Director of Hays UK & Ireland, commented "it has never been more important to support young people in their quest for employment. Young people need to understand what opportunities there are, what skills they need and how best to market themselves to potential employers. Given the wide spectrum of employers we work with across the UK we are confident that we will be able to make a real difference and are pleased to have such a strong role in supporting Action for Childrenâ€™s Step Ahead programme."
Supporting the Step Ahead programme, TV personality Duncan Bannatyne, says "initiatives such as 'Step Ahead' are vital in helping young people get a job. Times are tough for young people at the minute so programmes such as this will help them get that crucial first foot in the door."
The youngsters that take part in the Step Ahead programme can work towards a nationally recognised accreditation gaining City and Guilds Vocational Qualification (VQ) in Employability and Personal Development, a qualification that will assist entry into employment. The charity is continuing to expand the Step Ahead programme and is looking for businesses to join the programme and open its doors to more vulnerable young people.